Northam proposes plan to replace Central State Hospital with new facility

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam announced Monday that he will propose budget amendments to authorize construction of a new psychiatric facility in the commonwealth.

Central State Hospital is the state’s only maximum-security psychiatric hospital, housing people experiencing a sudden mental health crisis, as well as those found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity.

Central State houses some of Virginia’s most violent mental patients. CBS 6 has been looking into the problems at the hospital for nearly a year.

Last June, Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds said figuring out how to rebuild Central State is one of his top priorities.

"It’s out of date, it’s held together with duct tape," Deeds said in that interview. "It’s difficult to recruit staff there because of the condition it’s in, it’s not very therapeutic in layout, it is, in my view, both staff and the patients are endangered with the way it’s put together."

Northam gave media members a tour of the facility Monday. On one particular ward, four psychiatric patients lived together in a small room.

"It's no longer the kind of facility we want to treat our mental health patients,” Northam said.

Northam said he will propose budget amendments to authorize construction of a new $315 million facility that will be ready in five years.

“We need to replace Central State and we need to do it now,” he emphasized. “Waiting only delays the inevitable and adds to the cost of modernizing this hospital.”

Northam initially included funding for a new Central State in his budget proposal, but the legislature removed it because they felt like the timeline for construction was too long and would cost too much.

The Governor's staff reduced that timeline by two years.

Northam now believes legislators will move forward with funding a new hospital.

The Governor's budget amendments will be considered by the General Assembly when they reconvene in April.

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